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Interview with Dr. William F. Vendley, secretary general, Religions for Peace

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BridgeTheGap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-19-08 08:04 AM
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Interview with Dr. William F. Vendley, secretary general, Religions for Peace
New York-based World Conference of Religions for Peace (www.wcrp.org ) is the worlds largest organization to foster cooperation and collaboration among religions. As its chief executive officer, William Vendley leads the groups efforts to forge partnerships throughout the world. He and the non-partisan, non-sectarian Religions for Peace have worked to foster interreligious councils in hot spots such as Iraq, Sierra Leone and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The group also has worked with other organizations to address the needs of African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Vendley was recently in Louisville and we had the pleasure of Lunch with . him at the Brown Hotel.
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When you first got word of the trouble in Mumbai, what did you as the head of Religions for Peace do?

I was in Mumbai, I was in the airport, transiting from South India to Delhi, when the terrorist attacks were in full operation. I had been in India the week before, working with Indian religious leaders to further establish Religions for Peace in India. I was immediately with Indian religious leaders at the site of Gandhi's assassination. There was a great deal of commitment that these terrorist acts not be misused to polarize the Indian populations, which are identifiable by religious backgrounds and heritage. I also issued a statement, which was sent around the world, decrying these terrorists' acts, rejecting them on all grounds. They're a defamation of any religious group.

This is an important immediate response. And then there's the longer term work of building harmony among the communities. In that part of the world, we have a state under great stress. This is Pakistan, in which there is a loss of internal cohesion, serious stressors and historic enmity with India over Kashmir, and there's a special need to build Pakistani-Indian multireligious relations, and we're advancing that work as well.

These efforts are not unlike what we saw after Sept. 11.

That's correct. Just weeks after Sept. 11, at the United Nations headquarters -- our offices are located right across from the United Nations -- we convened some 150 or 200 religious leaders from around the world, men and women of very high station in their respective communities, and collectively they stood together to reject in the name of their own religious heritages the manipulation of religion in support of any terrorist activity, the killing of innocent people, simply not acceptable.

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20081219/OPINION...
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